I have broken three frames to date. They all have been cracks down near the dropouts, where they are welded to the chainstays. That is one of the most vulnerable spots on a frame, especially under touring load. All of my breakages have happened close to home, and I would say they were caused by a combination of heavy use and chinsy manufacture (Puegeot, Trek, Bianchi.) The debate about aluminum vs steel is iffy - it is true that you are more likely to find someone abroad who is able to weld your steel alloy frame, but you are not going to "solder" it in the bush so to speak. If you ar elooking for a very stout frame fo rtouring - hands down the Surly Long Haul Trucker is your best bet. The dropout area mentioned above is gusseted in such a way that I cannot imagine brekage ever occuring.